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Posts Tagged ‘Japan Nuclear Disaster Update’

Fukushima Nuclear Plant Rattled by M6.3 Quake

Posted by feww on April 12, 2011



Another Strong Shock Rattles Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant

The latest shock measuring 6.3Mw struck about 53km SW of the crippled Fukushima NPP, and 29km west of Iwaki city at a depth of 10km.

EQ details release by JMA

Occurred at (JST) Latitude
Depth Magnitude Region Name
14:07 JST 12 Apr 2011 37.0N 140.7E 10 km 6.3 Fukushima-ken Hamadori

Distances (USGS)

  • 29 km (18 miles) W (280°) from Iwaki, Honshu, Japan
  • 70 km (43 miles) S (172°) from Fukushima, Honshu, Japan
  • 83 km (52 miles) N (6°) from Mito, Honshu
  • 177 km (110 miles) NNE (25°) from TOKYO

Earthquake Location Map: JMA

Earthquake Location Map: USGS

Note: JPTRMT1 is an acronym for Japan Trench Megathrust Earthquake No.1

Japan Nuclear Disaster Update

Japanese authorities have finally raised the measure of severity of the Fukushima NPP disaster to the maximum level of 7 on INES, officials said in an NHK telecast.

Japanese government’s Nuclear Safety Commission had earlier revealed that the amount of radioactive iodine 131 released from Fukushima NPP had reached 10,000 terabecquerels per hour, for several hours at one stage, a level that prompted classification of the breach as a Major Accident [level 7 on INES, e.g, Chernobyl disaster, criticality accident, April 1986, see below,] Kyodo news reported.

The radiation level has subsequently fallen  to about one terabecquerel per hour, a report said.

“We have upgraded the severity level to seven as the impact of radiation leaks has been widespread from the air, vegetables, tap water and the ocean,” said a spokesman for Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA).

Radiation leaks from the stricken nuclear plant have not stopped completely and could exceed the  Chernobyl release 25 years ago, an TEPCO official said, NHK reported.

Japan’s Triple Disaster: Human Cost

  • Official Death Toll: 13,133
  • Missing:  14,345
  • Homeless: At least 155,000
  • Others: In addition to the above, an unknown number of people in remote areas may have perished, but no records are available as of posting.

The International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES)

The INES, a logarithmic scale, which was introduced in 1990 by the IAEA to enable prompt communication, classifies the intensity of nuclear incidents as follows:

7 – Major Accident [Chernobyl disaster, criticality accident, April 1986]

6 – Serious Accident [e.g., Kyshtym incident, Mayak, former Soviet Union, steam explosion released up to 80 tons of highly radioactive material into the atmosphere, September 1957. ]

5 – Accident With Wider Consequences [e.g., Three Mile Island accident  Pen State, U.S., partial meltdown release radioactive gases  into the environment, March 1979.]

4 – Accident With Local Consequences [e.g., Sellafield, UK, at least 5 incidents reported between 1955 to 1979]

3 – Serious Incident [e.g., Vandellos NPP, Spain, fire destroyed control systems; the reactor was shut down, July1989]

2 – Incident [e.g., Forsmark NPP, Sweden, a backup generator failed, July 2006]

1 – Anomaly [e.g., TNPC, France, 1,600 gallons of water containing 75 kilograms (170 lb) of uranium leaked into the environment,  July 2008]

0 – Deviation (No Safety Significance) [e.g., Atucha, Argentina – Reactor shutdown caused by tritium increase in reactor encasement, December 2006.]

Probability of a Nuclear Disaster by Country

The following probability figures are calculated by FIRE-EARTH on April 8, 2011


Probability of a Nuclear Disaster – by Country

on April 18, 2011


  1. The list represents a snapshot of events at the time of calculating the probabilities. Any forecast posted  here is subject to numerous variable factors.
  2. Figures in the bracket represent the probability of an incident occurring out of 1,000; the forecast duration is valid for the next 50  months.
  3. Probability includes a significant worsening of Fukushima nuclear disaster, and future quakes forecast for Japan.
  4. A nuclear incident is defined as a level 5 (Accident With Wider Consequences), or worse, on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES). See below.
  5. Safety issues considered in compiling these lists include the age, number of units and capacity of nuclear reactors in each country/state, previous incidents, probability of damage from human-enhanced natural disasters, e.g., earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic activity, hurricanes, tornadoes, storms, wildfires, flooding… ]
  6. The  Blog’s knowledge concerning the extent to which the factors described in (3) might worsen during the forecast period greatly influences the forecast.

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Radiation Leak Found at Fukushima

Posted by feww on April 2, 2011

Japan Nuclear Disaster Update – Apr 2

Radiation near Reactor 2 in Fukushima NPP measures 1,000 millisieverts per hour

TEPCO, operator of the crippled Fukushima NPP, has found radioactive water leaking into the sea from a cracked concrete duct near Reactor 2, NHK said.

A TEPCO employee points to the inlet of a cracked concrete duct containing power cables near Reactor 2 at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant where contaminated water,  emitting radiation at 1,000 millisieverts per hour, is  leaking into the sea, April 2, 2011. Source: TEPCO

“With radiation levels rising in the seawater near the plant, we have been trying to confirm the reason why, and in that context, this could be one source,” said deputy head of Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA).

“There could be other similar cracks in the area, and we must find them as quickly as possible.”  Mr Nishiyama added.

TEPCO  is planning to pour concrete into the duct in an attempt to stop the leak, a company spokesman was quoted as saying.

The US Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, estimated on Friday that about 70% of one reactor core and 30% of another were severely damaged. However, these figures have not been confirmed by TEPCO.

What is a lethal dose of radiation from a single Exposure?

Studies of the 1945 atomic bombing at Hiroshima and Nagasaki show that 100 percent of victims whose bodies were exposed to 600,000 millirems (6,000 mSv) died from radiation. About 50 percent of victims who received  450,000 millirems (4,500 mSv) of radiation also died.

(Note: Rem is a unit of ionizing radiation equal to the amount that produces the same damage to humans as one roentgen of high-voltage x-rays.  Source: MIT)

1 rem = 10 mSv  (1 Sv = 100 rem)

Background Radiation in millirems per year (mrem/yr)

  • Average background radiation (US):  300
  • Higher altitudes (eg. Denver): 400

“Safe Levels” of Radiation (U.S.)

Limits above natural background radiation levels (average 300 millirems per year) and medical radiation:

  • Occupation Limit: Maximum of 5,000  (the limit for a worker using radiation)
  • Average Natural Background: 300

[Note: Lifetime cumulative exposure should be limited to a person’s age multiplied by 1,000 millirems, e.g., a 70-year-old person, 70,000 millirems.]


  • Max single dose for an adult: 3,000
  • Annual total dose: 5,000

Under 18

  • Max single dose for a person aged under 18 years: 300 millirems (whole body equivalent)
  • Annual total exposure: 500

Fetal Exposure

  • Maximum limit for fetal exposure during gestation period:  50 millirems per month above background levels


  • Single Chest X-ray (the whole body equivalent): 2 millirem

Air Travel

  • Coast-to-coast US round trip flight: 12 millirems

Megaquake and Tsunami Death Toll

The latest figures released by the authorities put the number of dead at about  12,000 with 16,000 people still listed as missing.

Related Links

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Japan Nuclear Disaster Update – Apr 1

Posted by feww on April 1, 2011

Radioactive material probably leaking continuously from Fukushima NPP: NISA

Japan’s nuclear and industrial safety agency (NISA) has warned that radioactive substances from the stricken nuclear power plant may be continuously leaking into the sea.

Frame grab from a video released by TEPCO showing the state of one of the reactors.

An act of sheer folly

“I am prepared for a long-term battle over the Fukushima nuclear plant and to win this battle,” Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan said in a national telecast today.

Battle? What battle? Battle against the ultimate act of human folly? Building a nuclear power plant in an earthquake zone and hoping that the worst won’t happen?

“We cannot say that the plant has been sufficiently stabilized. But we are preparing for all kinds of situations and I am convinced that the plant can be stabilized,” Kan added.

WE keep our fingers crossed. But what about the other nuclear power plants in Japan? Aren’t they equally vulnerable to geophysical phenomena?

“We are focusing on stabilizing the conditions there using every bit of expertise available,” he said. “I am convinced we will be able to achieve it. I do not know for now how long this will take.”

Perhaps, as long as Chernobyl!

The French Connection

The French president has called for new global nuclear rules and offered to host a global conference in France. His concern amid the deepening nuclear disaster at Fukushima NPP indicates that:

  1. “Old global nuclear rules” don’t work!
  2. France, the most nuclear-dependent country, is also one of the worst nuclear-accident prone countries. [Why ales wold they need “new rules”?]
  3. Mr Sarcozy is very afraid that further deepening of Fukushima nuclear disaster may mobilize the French against [at least the expansion of] nuclear industry in France, thus upsetting the nuclear mafia.

Note: France relies on nuclear power for about 80 percent of its electricity and is a major exporter of nuclear technology.

Summary of other developments at Fukushima

  • The level of radioactive iodine-131 detected in seawater near the plant on Thursday was 4,385 times the safety limit.
  • Radiation level detected in a tunnel outside reactor 2 was higher than 10,000 times the normal levels, NHK reported.
  • Up to 75,000 people have been evacuated from the 20-km exclusion zone around the plant and about 140,000 others who live in a 10-km zone beyond that have been advised to leave or to stay indoors.
  • The ban on the shipment of foodstuffs from the prefectures affected by radiation contamination has been widened to include beef, Japan’s health ministry said.
  • More handheld Gieger counters have been sold in/shipped to Japan in the past three weeks than in the previous 25 years.
  • TEPCO has reported a shortage of radiation monitors for workers. They have assigned one per group of workers, instead of one for each worker.
  • The recovery of many bodies within the 20-km exclusion zone has been delayed because of the contamination risks.

Related Links

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